Mask wearing, during covid 19 times. A hot topic, with science showing the way for most. But how do professionals who’re deaf, navigate a true challenge to their professional competence?
The Paediatric (Pediatric) Doctor
Hundreds of HCPs in the UK NHS happen to be deaf, @DocFizzabella among them. Since March 2020, shortage of accessible PPE has limited workplace, situational and team communication for “Fizz” and her peers in the UK’s medical occupations.
One issue was the safety level of @theclearmask, FDA-certified in the US, but not approved for use in the UK’s NHS. Beyond this, the total lack of transparent face masks for HCP use in the NHS, triggered a campaign by @DeafVoices, which in September 2020 asked how long 250k clear face masks would last in the NHS.
The Professor of Technical Writing
Kevin Garrison, a professor of English (technical writing, editing and usability) at Angelo State University, brings us into his pre-covid world to convey the brutal impact mask wearing has on his life. Like most deaf people, he self-advocates and ultimately elicits vulnerability from both himself, and his academic community.
Lisa Steinfeld (interviewed by us, in 2017), writes candidly about the detriment of face mask wearing, to people with hearing issues. Ironically, she notes, everyone benefits from seeing faces clearly.
To close positively, this writer (Caroline) had four appointments in the past year, all fully masked. About 90% of dialogue was understood in quiet rooms with bilateral cochlear implants, rephrasing and clarification. In noisy settings like schools, hospitals, the ER or A&E however, this speech understanding would go into freefall. Respect, to all deaf frontline workers in masked workplaces.
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